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A Love Letter to Libraries

book with pages shaped as a heart

We’re absolutely smitten with The New York Times' February 14 feature, “A Love Letter to Libraries, Long Overdue,” in which the newspaper sent photographers to seven states to document “the thrum and buzz in buildings once known for silence.” It was the perfect Valentine’s Day gift to the library world.

The photos capture the undeniably energy and life found in libraries, as well as how libraries respond to the needs of their communities and the many ways in which patrons find a haven in them. A brief selection captures:

A father reading to his son and a friend at the 81st Avenue Branch of Oakland (Calif.) Public Library.

A young reader curling up with a book in a nook at the Northtown branch of Chicago Public Library.

A young patron focusing on a writing exercise during homework help time, while teen musicians play guitars in the YOUmedia space at Hialeah Gardens (Fla.) Branch Library.

A man playing patriotic songs during a meeting of the Senior Social Club at Edwin A. Bemis Public Library in Littleton, Colorado.

An outreach librarian from Minnesota’s Kitchigami Regional Library system completing paperwork during a bookmobile stop.

A peek inside the Oakland (Calif.) Tool Lending Library.

Volunteers recording audiobooks at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library in Seattle

A vibrant mural adorning the façade of Carver Branch Library in Austin, Texas.

The photos document the changing face and public perception of libraries in the U.S., from hushed book repositories to vibrant community spaces where people of all ages can find everything from reading materials and book clubs to audio/visual recording facilities and video gaming areas. Most importantly, the photos show how libraries have the power to change lives. As writers Elisabeth Egan and Erica Ackerberg wrote about reviewing the photos:

“Sitting in a windowless room in Times Square, scrolling from library to library, state to state, we were unexpectedly moved by the color, light and joy at our fingertips. These glimpses into lives of strangers were a reminder that copies of the books piled on our desks at the Book Review will soon land on shelves in libraries across the country and, eventually, in the hands of readers. You’ll pass them to other people, and on and on.

“We all know that books connect us, that language has quiet power. To see the concentration, curiosity and peace on faces lit by words is to know—beyond a shadow of a doubt, in a time rife with shadows—that libraries are the beating hearts of our communities. What we borrow from them pales in comparison to what we keep. How often we pause to appreciate their bounty is up to us.”

Read the story and check out the lovely photos at The New York Times.

Image by Freepik.

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